Environment News - Bulletin 103 (Jun 09)

Top of this month's green agenda was US President Barack Obama's radical new fuel efficiency and emissions standards.

Barack Obama giving a speech
Image: Joe Crimmings  

The standards, which will start to have an impact from 2012, are the first to combine fuel efficiency and emissions in a single package and includes:

  • most  passenger cars reaching 39 miles per US gallon (47 per Imperial gallon) a 12.5 mpg improvement from current levels
  • light trucks to improve from 23mpg to 30 mpg (US)
  • car emissions required to be 30% cleaner
  • bringing forward federal fuel-efficiency standards by four years

While the standards appear to have basic approval from industry and the federal States, the first draft of the Clean Energy and Security Act 2009 (which includes carbon cap-and-trade legislation) is set for a tough ride through Congress. While some see it as a necessary, radical approach to combating climate change, others see it as simply a flawed carbon tax.

Flaws in carbon capture and storage (CCS) were the subject of heated debate at a conference in Oslo on the subject.  Experts were critical of the economic and political issues surrounding the process.  Interestingly, the experts even criticised themselves as a potential barrier to the progress of CSS.

Collaborative research between Queen's University, Belfast and the University of Alabama has discovered an environmentally friendly method of dissolving wood using ionic liquids.  The results use mild heat to break the wood down into a cellulose-rich material and pure lignin for production of biofuels as well as textiles, clothes and paper.

Joint effort has also paid-off for Volvo Cars, whose partnership with Swedish energy company Vattenfall could lead to battery-powered Volvos with plug-in hybrid technology as early as 2012.

veredium bannerIn the Philippines, Veredium Energy is aiming to import second generation ethanol fuel, with ethanol sourced from biowaste; while at the SAE 2009 World Congress in Detroit, there were plaudits for Eaton Corporation's Truck Group who received the E2T Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award for their Roadranger synthetic lubricants.

And Eastman Chemical Company announced their biodiesel additive BioExtend 30 HP has received ‘No-Harm' certification following testing in Germany and is now a registered fuel additive in with the EPA in the US.